All we know about death

A great scene from Paths Of Glory (Kubrick, 1957)

Soldier 1: I’m not afraid of dying tomorrow, only of getting killed.
Soldier 2: That’s as clear as mud.
Soldier 1: Well, which would you rather be done in by: a bayonet or a machine gun?
Soldier 2: Oh, a machine gun, naturally.
Soldier 1: Naturally, that’s just my point. They’re both pieces of steel ripping into your guts, only the machine gun is quicker, cleaner, and less painful, isn’t it?
Soldier 2: Yeah, but what does that prove?
Soldier 1: That proves that most of us are more afraid of getting hurt than of getting killed. Look at Bernard. He panics when it comes to gas. Gas doesn’t bother me a bit. He’s seen photos of gas cases. Doesn’t mean anything to me. But I’ll tell you something though, I’d hate like the devil to be without my tin hat. But on the other hand I don’t mind not having a tin hat for my tail. Why is that?
Soldier 2: You’re darn tootin‘, because-
Soldier 1: Because I know a wound to the head would hurt much more than one to the tail. The tail is just meat but the head- ah, the head is all bone.
Soldier 2: Eh, speak for yourself.
Soldier 1: Tell me this. Aside from the bayonet, what are you most afraid of?
Soldier 2: High explosives.
Soldier 1: Exactly, and it’s the same with me, because, because I know that it can chew you up worse than anything else. Look, just like I’m trying to tell you, if you’re really afraid of dying you’d be living in a funk all the rest of your life because you know you’ve got to go someday, anyday. And besides-
Soldier 2: Yes?
Soldier 1: If it’s death that you’re really afraid of why should you care about what it is that kills you?
Soldier 2: Oh, you’re too smart for me, Professor. All I know is, nobody wants to die.

„Schonungslose Anklage gegen das Verbrechen des Krieges und die Ruhmsucht der Militärs. Der mit einem Budget von nur 900.000 Dollar in Deutschland gedrehte Film gilt als einer der besten Antikriegsfilme überhaupt. Realistisch, zeitlos, erschütternd glaubhaft; eine erstaunliche Leistung für den damaligen Neuling im Regiefach.“ – Lexikon des Internationalen Films

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